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SGM-FX View of london

Brexit under May

 

Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter:

 

The original Brexit vote was motivated by a dissensus within the incumbent Conservative government under David Cameron; at least that is the public and academic consensus. I argue that this suggests that the delivery of a final secession, and the eventual form that Brexit takes, will be definitive and complete. Whilst the media and critics may fear and criticise Theresa May’s commitment to a soft or incomplete Brexit, even her conjectured ambivalence about reversing the process entirely, the composition of the Conservative party is likely to force her hand to abide by the will of the Leave vote.

 

The market’s short-medium run consensus is bearish for the Pound, my view also remains this way. However, this article aims to uncover why this trend and expectations for its continuance might be over exercised and the bearish market over anticipated. Whether the desire for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union has been evolving and suppressed within the British public ever since 1973 is inconsequential. What matters is that the Brexit mandate is the democratic consequence of the June 2016 referendum; an event that was facilitated at this specific time by the internal dynamics of the incumbent Conservative government.

 

David Cameron’s Conservative party was staunchly divided on Brexit. This was not a new tension, or, for that matter, even one that has disappeared following Cameron’s resignation. Conservative MPs are almost equally divided on the matter of Europe. Whilst this numerically resembles the referendum divide, a geographical, voting result, and demographic analysis reveals that parliamentary representation does not correlate with public voting behaviour. Critically, therefore, the Conservative party is constrained.

 

To unite his party during the 2015 election campaign, Cameron included the pledge within the Conservative manifesto. There were additional reasons for this inclusion. For example, the wider conservative party feared a defection of voters and MPs alike to the United Kingdom Independence Party; UKIP. Therefore, in an appeal to the median voter and to develop the voter base during the referendum, the party offered a referendum, despite formally voting to remain. However, internal party dynamics were overwhelmingly responsible for the referendum opportunity, with a breakup of the party and defection possible had Cameron not conceded to a referendum. Critically, I argue that this division within the Conservative party will, once again, safeguard the deliverance of secession. This is because without a significant reshuffle of Conservative representatives, Members will assert pressure upon the leadership and cabinet to deliver.

 

This offers a critical market insight: despite public and media fears of a Brexit U-turn, so long as the Conservative party is the predominant government, a Brexit is almost a foregone conclusion. Therefore, upon the realisation of this conclusion, the uncertainty and risk that is priced within the foreign exchange market surrounding the secession negotiations and final exit arrangement could be alleviated. Uncertain effects surrounding the British political economy deteriorate the value and purchasing parity of the Pound Sterling. A potential for a partial revaluation, ceteris paribus, once this fact establishes itself is a strong possibility.

 

Ultimately, therefore, the Pound could be valued slightly higher than its respective intraday level by pricing out the uncertainty risk of a retrenchment from Brexit and a deliberate bad deal. As mentioned above, this does not reverse expectations of a bearish Pound Sterling. The absolute risk surrounding Brexit and the final exit deal still remains. Instead, what is overpriced, is the risk of a no B-Remain, a U-turn and the political and social fallout from this event.

 

This leads to the conclusion that despite rightful concern about Brexit negotiation progress and UK party politics, the constraint upon the government to execute a satisfactory and decoupled Brexit is stronger than one might realise at first glance. Following the devaluation of the Pound at market upon this morning, when Sterling lost more than half a percent against the Dollar and Euro, this message is increasingly salient.

 

While there are qualifications to this, not least the unstable absolute mandate of this Conservative government thereby raising the efficacy of defections, the Parliamentary and whip system can be supposed to offer some constraint upon Commons voting behaviour amongst Remain-inclined Members. Therefore, the only real threat to the foregone conclusion of a Brexit is a second referendum; a measure that the composition of the incumbent party should, once again, preclude. Members of the party would be constrained to follow their public mandate, however, have considerable power over whether to allow that mandate to manifest by blocking a referendum bill in the Commons.

 

In summary, regardless of your opinion on Brexit; good bad, beautiful or ugly, the UK’s secession from the European Union is almost inevitable. Outstanding circumstances outside the realm of normal governmental action and party politics would have to prevail with remarkable secrecy. The argumentation behind this conclusion further suggests that risk within the Pound Sterling, specific to Brexit, is overvalued. Therefore, the Pound Sterling may appreciate upon the realisation of the government’s real, de facto, commitment to leaving the Union. The Conservative party conference, that concluded yesterday, developed even more weight to this argument; Brexit is the only plausible option within the UK’s incumbent centre-right party.

 

Catalonia and the Euro:

Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter:

 

It is indisputable that this weekend’s referendum in Catalonia generates considerable headline risk within Europe. The instability, uncertainty, and political risk within the Spanish economy has reflected within nationally sensitive equities and indicators. However, the purchasing power of the Euro, its exchange rate vis-à-vis other currencies, appears to be largely unaffected. The question of whether this relates to a systemic insulation of the Euro, or pure insignificance of the referendum, has a particular importance to those exposed in the Euro.

 

Opening down against the Pound and the US Dollar, the Catalonian independence referendum might have been supposed to undermine Eurozone solidarity. After all, should the independence of the region be declared, at least the form of the future Spanish and potential Catalonian membership with the Union and single currency should be questioned. However, the significance of the difference before and after this weekend’s referendum was only marginal. Interestingly, the weakness within the Euro against the Pound Sterling has been reversed throughout the morning, up to 10:00 BST.

 

The result attested to following the controversial referendum generates a considerable mandate for the region’s independence. The threat of a high-productivity and nationally significant region declaring formal independence from Spain creates uncertainty both within the nation and within the region. The uncertainty should be supposed to deter investors from both the region and the nation whilst the taxation revenue and spending distribution is re-evaluated and the future legal political framework of the independent region understood.

 

This uncertainty has been reflected within Spanish markets. Notably, yields within 10-year Spanish Government bonds has increased by nearly 5% since the close of markets on Friday. The yield on bonds and general debt reflects the inverse of the price of the bond. The yield is the effective return that the bond will pay to the investor and holder of the contract, qualified by its face value. It is clear, therefore, that if the return on a bond increases, it must reflect the risk of holding the contract; the risk of no repayment. Therefore, the increase in the yield of Spanish Government bonds is telling of the political uncertainty and credit-worthiness that the referendum has installed.

 

The spill over from the referendum was not contained within the sovereign debt market. Spanish equities, particularly banking stocks, were hit by the weekend’s events. The violence and reported atmosphere within Catalonia this weekend should be considered as a strong and concerning phenomenon that has exacerbated the scare within financial markets. Overall, the impact of the referendum has damaged the value surrounding the Spanish economy.

 

So, why has the Euro not been hit that hard?

 

Well it is possible that the exchange rate priced in the political risk of the foreseen referendum better than the bond market has. However, this is highly implausible given the transparency and comparability of the free markets of bonds and flexible exchange rates, not to mention their entwinement. Therefore, instead, I suggest that the solidarity within the single currency insulates the single currency from the idiosyncrasies of national concerns.

 

Naturally, a union of 19 national currencies should not be as responsive as a national currency to an upside or downside event affecting only one nation. Sharing a currency shares exchange rate risk, de facto, without explicit design; a currency union is effectively a fixed exchange rate. Therefore, because the Catalonian risk is unlikely to transmit across borders, at least in the medium run, the deserved foreign purchasing parity of the other 18 economies should, ceteris paribus, be intact. Ultimately, currencies are a conduit for which to facilitate international trade, mobility and engagement. As such they are an excellent indicator of the integrity and strength of an economy. Therefore, the risk that the Catalonian referendum generates is mediated and diversified across the other 18 nations, thereby preserving the value of the Euro.

 

For the risk averse individual purchasing international currencies, this suggests that the volatility of the Euro to political agendas should be limited. It could be thought, and has been proven to be so, that the US Dollar contains a similar stability and value. This is why these currencies are used, or increasingly used, as reserve currencies; conduits and mediums to preserve wealth as well as facilitate trade. For those seeking exchange rate upside and downside risk, the Euro and Dollar may be unsatisfactory currencies.